Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter walked onstage Wednesday night at the Naval Academy’s Beat Army pep rally and bonfire to the song “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins.
On Saturday, the Naval Academy’s football team will play against the U.S. Military Academy’s team, the Army Black Knights, for the 118th time. At the pep rally Wednesday, football players, cheerleaders and academy leaders took the stage to get the students excited to face their rivals on the football field.
“This will be the game of the century,” Carter said.
Speaking to thousands of midshipmen and other friends of the Naval Academy on a field at Hospital Point, Carter warned that the Corps of Cadets at West Point already think they have the game in the bag.
“They think that they can crush your morale. They even said that they stole your goat,” Carter said.
The crowd was outraged. In a spirit video released earlier this week, Army pretended to take one of the Navy’s beloved goat mascots. The goat was a fake though — and Carter proved it Wednesday night when officials brought out the real Navy goats, Bill 36 and Bill 37.
“The goats are alive and well, and they are ready to kick some Army mule,” Carter said.
The Commandant of Midshipmen Capt. Robert Chadwick spoke just before Carter, and walked onstage to the song “More Than A Feeling” by Boston.
“And I’ve got more than a feeling that the tide is turning,” Chadwick said.
Navy has a team that is hungry and healthy, he said.
“The difference on Saturday is going to be each one of you because I can tell you the Corps of Cadets is going to come amped up, but our team could shut them up pretty quickly. And I want you to drown them out throughout the entire game,” he said.
Once the speakers concluded, all eyes turned to a pile of pallets, stacked high with a wooden mule dangling from a rope a few feet above. They lit the pile on fire and, after a few minutes, the faux Army mascot caught, too. The crowd cheered again, then took a few steps back from the hot flames.
While the traditions surrounding the Army-Navy game are long-standing, the event was new to one father and son who moved to Annapolis this June. Damian Sinclair, who works at the Naval Academy Foundation, said he brought his 8-year-old son, Dominic, to the pep rally because since they moved, they’ve been doing everything “Navy.”“I just wanted him to see the energy and excitement,” Sinclair said.